Game recap: Tennessee 63, Western Kentucky 7
A recap of the game
Tennessee wide receiver Marsalis Teague played like a veteran for most of Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium. But he did have a freshman moment.
"I caught myself in the huddle looking up at the crowd," Teague said. "The next thing I know, I hear (Jonathan) Crompton calling the play."
Teague never lost his focus when the ball was in the air. He had a game-high six catches for 86 yards in Tennessee's 63-7 victory over Western Kentucky in the season opener.
He also had a touchdown reception on a 5-yard pass from Crompton.
"I saw the ball in the air and said, 'Let me get on my horse,' " Teague said. "It was a perfect ball.
"When (Crompton) called the formation, he just gave me that look. So I broke the corner (route) off early and kind of faded to the back of the end zone. And Jonathan made a helluva throw."
That wasn't the only good throw from Crompton, who completed 21 of 28 passes for 233 yards and five touchdowns.
Ten different UT players, including three freshmen, caught passes.
Scary Hit: Freshman running back Bryce Brown thought the worst when he was hit in the open field on a 16-yard run late in the first quarter.
"I thought I had torn my ACL or something," Brown said. "That's the first thing I thought of."
Brown limped off the field but returned a few plays later.
He finished with 104 yards on 11 carries in his first college game. But he wasn't satisfied.
"Every time I carry the ball, I think I should get more yards than I did," he said. "No matter what I do, I always feel I can do better."
Breathing Room: The Vols erased a lot of memories of stagnant offense and took almost all the pressure off the defense with their 63-point outburst after a sluggish start, a welcome sight for a unit that shouldered almost all the load last year.
The defense was clearly thankful for the help, but it also deserved some of the credit.
"That makes us feel very good as a team," safety Eric Berry said. "Especially on defense, because we kind of feel like we helped our offense get to that point - the same way they help us.
"They get us better and we compete every day against those guys and we know what we're in for, we know what other teams are in for, so we just try to help them along the way they help us."
Got Tickets?: UT came close to reaching its season-ticket sales goal for 2009.
The Vols were "very close to 71,000" tickets sold before Saturday's kickoff, according to associate athletic director Chris Fuller.
The 71,000 figure constitutes 97.5 percent of UT's available season tickets. It sold 72,800 season tickets last season.
UT lowered its mandatory contribution to purchase season tickets. That led to a surge in season-ticket purchases in August.
Under 100,000: Attendance was announced at 98,761. It was the first time since stadium expansion in 1996 that UT opened a season at home with a crowd below 100,000.
Coaching Comparison: Lane Kiffin became the 17th UT head coach to win his opening game.
Phillip Fulmer, Kiffin's predecessor, won his first game (1993) against Louisiana Tech, 50-0. Johnny Majors, who preceded Fulmer, lost his first game 27-17 to Cal.
Home Sweet Home: The Vols are 89-18-5 in home openers and have won 15 in row. Their last loss in a home opener was against Florida in 1994.
End Of Skid: The victory was UT's first in an opener since 2006. It lost road openers to UCLA last season and to Cal in 2007.
Bad Wheel: Kiffin said UT pulled senior offensive guard Vladimir Richard after the first two series because of a sore Achilles tendon in his left leg.
Kiffin said Richard could have played more, but UT didn't want to risk further injury.
UT replaced Richard with senior Cory Sullins.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there," said Sullins, who was told last week that he would likely be called on to replace Richard.
Cory Sullins played alongside his twin brother, Cody Sullins, at center.
"I feel like we fit on blocks perfectly," Cody Sullins said. "It feels really comfortable playing next to him."
West Coast Swipe: Kiffin had some fun when asked when was the last time he didn't use a punter in a game.
"Wasn't at Oakland, that's for sure," he said, referring to his short, tumultuous tenure as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.
Austin Ward and Dave Hooker contributed to this report.